Communicating our research results to fellow scientists, but also policy makers, practitioners, journalists and the general public, is a core task in science. It is particularly important if we aim to facilitate evidence-based decision-making and aspire to have a real-world impact with our research.
Visualizations play a powerful role in science communication. They help to attract attention, summarize data and make information easily accessible (see also the previous blog post and recent publication about telecoupling visualizations). Animated and interactive visuals in particular can be highly appealing and effective means for communicating results via websites, blog posts, social media posts and conference presentations. Yet, many scientists seem to lack the time and/or technical capacities to generate appealing visuals that speak to their target audience.
In recent years, a range of visualizations tools has been developed that aim to facilitate the transformation of data into attractive visuals. Often, they are simple to use and do not require sophisticated data visualization skills. In the table below, we present a selection of such visualization tools, which may help us to translate our research results into beautiful visuals.
|Type of visualizations||Weblink||Costs||Examples|
|Various static chart types (e.g. Sankey diagrams)||RAWGraphs||Free||Examples on the RAWGraphs website|
|Various static and responsive chart types||Datawrapper||Free (with extended paid versions)||Examples on the Datawrapper website|
|Animated charts, flow charts, story maps, and much more||Flourish||Free version for public data/projects (with extended paid versions)||Examples on the Flourish website
|Social network graphs, stakeholder maps and causal loop diagrams||Kumu||Free version for public data/projects (with extended paid versions)||Dynamics of concussion / Erin Kenzie / PSU Systems Science, Portland State University|
|Storytelling with maps||ArcGIS StoryMaps||To use ArcGIS StoryMaps, you need full access to the Essential Apps Bundle by purchasing an ArcGIS Creator or GIS Professional user type.
Many universities and organizations are already using ArcGIS, so you may be able to get access to ArcGIS via the organization or university you work for.
|Global interests collide in Madagascar / Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), University of Bern
“Hungry mills” and their role in Indonesia’s palm oil industry / Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), University of Bern
|Infographics||Canva||Basic features are for free (with extended paid versions)||The Global Carbon Budget / World Resources Institute|
|Interactive world maps||MapHub||Free||Map of our COUPLED project at the bottom of our website|
|Geographic flow maps||flowmap.blue||Free||Examples on the website|
Click on the picture below to see an example of a network graph which shows the interlinkages between climate initiatives and the Sustainable Development Goals (created with kumu.io).
Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), University of Bern
Mittelstrasse 43, 3012 Bern, Switzerland